- January 13, 2018 at 9:19 PM #42955
I would love to hear from others how you do prayer time in the devotional period. Do you as the teacher always/only pray? Student sentence prayers? Silent student prayer followed by the teacher closing? Small groups praying together? Students assigned by turns? Students volunteering? I have grappled with this question many times and have used most of the above approaches but would love to hear from others.
- January 15, 2018 at 9:51 PM #43004
This year I have a challenging special needs student (he has a brain-injury) who sees prayer time as a way to act out. Since I do not want prayer time to become a battle-ground (in the human sense) we often sing a prayer together. In other years, since these are first graders and not all of them are used to forming their own prayers I often have the prayer. As the year goes on we may graduate to student sentence prayers.
- January 19, 2018 at 5:22 PM #43092
Interesting question. I decided a few years ago that the awkwardness-to-profitability ratio associated with student prayer during devotions is just too high, although I am not altogether comfortable with this decision. I solicit prayer requests and lead the students in prayer. I typically have the boys in the class take turns leading in prayer at lunch.
One year I divided the students into groups of two to four (or something like that) and had them pray together. I thought it would be a good way to build community, encourage spiritual fellowship, etc. Well into the school year I learned that in some (maybe most, it’s been a long time and I don’t remember) groups the prayer partners just prayed silently in each others’ presence, which was not exactly what I had in mind. I guess you can make space for spiritual fellowship, but you can’t force it.
- January 20, 2018 at 9:21 PM #43101
Most mornings I choose 2 “prayer leaders” who are asked to pray for the prayer requests given that day. I sit on my stool and they come up front and stand on either side of me to lead the class in prayer and then I close. Some students are accustomed to praying aloud at home and others are not. I think that this is a great opportunity to teach our students how to formulate prayers and lead others in prayer.
On Fridays, we focus on prayers of Thanksgiving. Sometimes I’ve tried to have my students do “popcorn prayers” just praying short prayers “as the spirit leads.” My class this year can’t quite handle that without laughing 🙂 , so instead we go around the room in a set order and each student says his short prayer “Thank you for ________” and then I close.
The past 2 years I have asked each student to bring in a prayer card for a missionary in their family or from their church or that they know of. I post these around a map on the wall with yarn from the prayer card to the location of the mission endeavor. We go around the map and each week pray for a different missionary. I like having a specific person/ministry to pray for, especially those days when my students don’t have as many (significant) requests.
- January 21, 2018 at 10:09 PM #43109
I really like those ideas, Becky, especially the one about students bringing in prayer cards to post around the map and pray for regularly. I intend to follow up on that.
Periodically I also like using the short sentence “thank you prayers” idea and find that I learn a lot about what the students are thinking of in that time! Your idea of making that a certain day of each week sounds like a good plan.
Sometimes I ask those who gave requests to pray for those out loud. Other times I ask students to simply pray silently for the requests given and then after a bit I close. This year a couple students requested that I give them a longer time of silent prayer before I end — “I didn’t have enough time to finish”. I was happy to oblige so we came up with the plan that when they are finished they simply whisper a quiet “Amen”.
Each day I also pray for the student of the day. They like that and remind me if I forget.
- January 25, 2018 at 12:56 PM #43177
In my Grade 1-2 class I have all the students names on Popsicle sticks. I pull three names and ask if they want to pray. Some do, some don’t. Once there are three willing volunteers, they stand in a row, side-by-side at the front of the room. I invite the class to give prayer requests and call on the first three students who raise their hands. One “prayer person” is assigned each prayer request which they take turns praying for. I close and try to cover all the requests plus pray for each student by name. It takes time for some students to get comfortable with it, but for many of them it is exciting when they get to lead out.
- January 27, 2018 at 10:19 AM #43214
We are teachers. Teachers teach. Prayer is at least partly a learned activity,
( …”one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Lk. 11:1)
While prayer is not one of the “three R’s,” it is as integral to each day as eating and conversing. It’s one of those things teachers teach “along the way.” Several suggestions/approaches I’ve used include…
a. Modeling. Students need to hear daily prayers. That means they need to hear you pray.
b. Practical approaches. Over time, introduce students to short but specific prayers of adoration/praise (for who He is),
thanksgiving (for blessings),
confession (what we believe, what we’ve done),
petition (for grace, help, wisdom),
intercession (for others–missionary support would fall here).
c. Consider having children pray a carefully worded written prayer occasionally (other than the Lord’s prayer). There’s a fascinating balance between “praying what you feel like praying” and “feeling the prayer you pray.” Both have their place.
Here are a few sentences from A Devoted Christian’s Prayer Book taken from a Mennonite devotional book dated in 1739. It is titled A Prayer for Faithful Workers Using it as a model, you could craft short prayers in updated language, at appropriate level, and on a variety of themes for use in the classroom:
O Lord of the harvest, truly the harvest is great but the laborers are few. Awaken among us, O Lord, faithful teachers, fervent workers who will plant the seeds of truth throughout the world. Give us such men who are godly-minded, have found grace in Thine eyes, and are able to work according to Thy will. May they preach Thy Word in the power of the Spirit in meekness and sincerity, to the honor and glory of Thy name.
My point in offering this example is that there is a tradition in Anabaptism of offering recited prayers. Although the prayer style pendulum has swung so far that to our modern/postmodern ears recited prayers may sound like “vain repetition,” the risk is just as great that the supposedly impromptu “help us do what we should and bless all the missionaries” prayers are vain repetition. The challenge is always to keep heart and words together.
- January 27, 2018 at 3:48 PM #43239
Thank you for all the excellent ideas! As Jonas pointed out prayer is meant to be an integral part of our daily lives and we can never impart what is not first of all in our hearts.
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